The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.  The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years.  But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them.  The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him.  So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.
The book of Judges is a sad series of yo-yos. The Israelites repeatedly sank into forgetting what a great God they had and how much he had done for them, and instead copying the nations around them and worshipping things that were not true gods at all. As a result they found themselves subservient to those nations, so they cried out to the Lord, and he sent a deliverer, a judge. For a few years they were free and they made the same mistakes again. This happened time and time again. Othniel was one of their saviours; there were about eleven others, some of them unlikely saviours – one used a farmer’s stick, one was left-handed, one had a weakness for women, one was a woman …
Our Saviour was an unlikely candidate too, a builder’s son with a northern accent, but he rescues us even when we our lives are a yo-yo and we have to keep coming back up. The song ‘He’s our rescuer’ includes the line ‘There is good news for the one who walked away.’ Even though we sometimes walk away like the Israelites, he will rescue us again and again.
There is good news for the captive
Good news for the shamed
There is good news for the one who walked away
There is good news for the doubter
The one religion failed
For the good lord has come to seek and save